Walter E. Williams

But it's going to get worse. The TSA aims to have 500 "behavior detection officers" (BDOs) in airports by the end of this year. The job of the BDOs will be that of examining passengers for "body language and facial cues … for signs of bad intentions." They look for what the experts call "micro-expressions." Fear and disgust are the key ones, he said, because they're associated with deception. That would make me a prime candidate for scrutiny and possibly trouble because if I ever had to go through airport security procedures, I would have those "micro-expressions" of disgust and fear of arrest.

McClatchy Newspapers reported in an article, "New airport agents check for danger in fliers' facial expressions," (August 2007) that Jay Cohen, undersecretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, "wants to automate passenger screening by using videocams and computers to measure and analyze heart rate, respiration, body temperature and verbal responses as well as facial micro-expressions."

Someone who wishes to hijack or destroy a plane will spend considerable time and effort to get around the TSA's attitude-detecting policies. The bulk of the people hassled by these and other TSA procedures are law-abiding Americans who have no malicious intentions, along with a few people traveling with drugs and other contraband. The TSA routinely confiscates about 15,000 items a day from passengers, in addition to the hassle, rudeness and arrogance. With these kind of costs imposed on the traveling public, I'd like TSA to give an account of themselves, namely just how many hijackings or bombings they have prevented, along with the evidence. Americans have been far too compliant and that has given the TSA carte blanche to treat travelers any way they wish. I'm staying away. TSA has its rules and Williams has his, and one of mine is to avoid tyrants and idiots.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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